As tenth graders begin to consider next year’s course selection, the main question in everyone’s mind is whether to choose Advanced Placements (AP) or the International Baccalaureate (IB) . Since an overwhelming 63% of juniors and seniors are currently enrolled in the IB program, one may think that IB is the way to go.
A clear majority of students take IB, and students who don’t follow that path are often ridiculed for being lazy or incompetent. However, the reality is that AP courses are just as rigorous as IB courses and are as widely recognized by universities around the world. In many ways the AP is a more beneficial and enriching program.
The rumors that AP students slack off and never have work are absolutely not true. AP courses are college level classes, designed at a caliber for university students. Fast paced and rigorous, AP classes require students to do be self-disciplined and independent to keep up.
In order to excel, AP students must do most of their studying, reading, and note taking outside of the classroom. We never have advisors, teachers, or coordinators nagging us about deadlines, the responsibility is on us. As Mr. Pieri puts it, AP courses are like a sprint while the IB is a marathon. Students will succeed in this ‘sprint’ if they are constantly reading and studying independently, which in turn will develop study habits and time management skills critical to college success.
Furthermore, while the IB is a very structured program and works for certain students, the AP is more flexible and accommodates everyone. Since most of the classes are one year in length, students have the opportunity to take a wide variety of subjects over two years. For students who aren’t quite sure of what they want to do, it gives them the chance to sample different courses and figure out what they like best. This gives students a balance of different courses which in return will give students more options of courses to major in at university.
On the contrary, students who are passionate about certain areas can immerse themselves more in that particular area of study. For example, if you’re an aspiring mathematician, the AP allows you to take calculus AB and BC as well as statistics over two years, while the IB limits you to just one math class. If you’re passionate about the sciences, you may take biology, physics, chemistry, and robotics. Virtual High School (VHS) courses are also available to pursue any subject that isn’t already offered at ZIS.
Unlike the AP, the IB is very constraining. If you go into the IB program thinking you want to pursue a degree in English in university, you don’t have much leeway to change. If you decide at the end of 11th grade that your passion and strength isn’t in literature anymore, but instead you want to become a doctor and study medicine, you are at a dead end. In order to get into certain programs in University such as medical school, you are required to take a specific number of higher level classes and certain subjects in high school.
When we are 16 we should not be expected to know what career path you want to take. It is too much pressure and you are too young to know what you really want to do. With AP, you have more flexibility to change or add on courses throughout the years. Therefore, the AP accommodates both students who are unsure of what they want to do and students who are confident of what they want to do.
With regard to universities, the AP and IB programs are considered equal worldwide. Mrs. Wood pointed out that it’s not as much about which program you choose, but about what you do with it. She emphasized the importance of the rigor of your schedule. Students take roughly five to six APs over two years, some even greatly exceeding that average with ten to twelve. If students challenge themselves with the AP, and do well, they will be looked at equally to any IB student.
The AP, being an American program, is of course widely received at US colleges. For the UK, many people are under the impression that you must take IB to be accepted into the elite British universities. However, as long as you’re taking the right amount of AP courses and the correct subjects for your intended major you will be considered alongside any applicant.
The AP also allows for possible unconditional offers or very attainable offers. By working hard in 11th grade and receiving high exam grades, you may meet many university requirements right away. Would you rather complete most university requirements in 11th grade or have your whole future rest on all your senior year exams?
Curriculum night is coming up, and surely the complaints of current IB students will be echoing through your minds. Don’t ignore these very valid complaints. The IB is rigid and structured, while the AP program will provide you with a broadening academic experience, a unique flexibility, and an opportunity to develop study habits that you will carry on into university.
By: Anna Hall & Gabby Ciemny